DrCLTOING THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE BOTAL GEO&RAPHICAL SOCIETY.
PUBLISHED UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF THE COUNCIL.
EDITED BY THE SECRETARY.
VOL. XX. — July to December, 1902.
TBTE ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY, 1, Savile Row;
EDWARD STANFORD, 12, 13 and 14, Long Acre, W.C.
Through the Great Canon of the Euphrates River. By Ellsworth Huntington
(with Map and 9 Illustrations) 175
Report on the Identification of the Bay of San Felipe and Santiago visited
by Quiros in 1606 201
Note on the Identification of La Sagittaria of Quiros. By Rear-Admiral
Sir W. J. L. WhartoD, K.C.B., P.B.S. 207
The National Antarctic Expedition. The Departure of the Morniny
(with Illustration and Portrait) 209
The Russian Polar Expedition. Summary Report for 1901. By Baron
Ed. Toll 216
Reviews : —
America— Central America 220
Oceanography — The Voyage of the Gauss 222
The Monthly Record 224
(Geographical Literature of the Month 237
New Maps 252
No. 3. September.
The Geographical Conditions determining History and Religion in Asia
Minor. By Prof. W. M. Ramsay (with Map) 1257
The Caura Affluent of the Orinoco. By E. Andre* (with Sketch-map) 283
Summary of the Results of Dr. Sven Hedin's Latest Journey in Central
Asia (1899-1902). By Dr. Sven Hedin (with Sketch-map, 4 Illustra-
tions, and Diagram) 307
The International Council for the Study of the Sea 316
The "Sudd" of the White Nile. By Edward S. Crispin, m.b.c.s., l.r.c.p.
(with 9 Illustrations) 318
Geographical Results of the Explorations of the French " White Fathers "
in North-Eastern Rhodesia. By Henri Maitre (with Sketch-map) .. 324
Reviews : —
Africa— Uganda 328
America — Charlevoix's 'New France 1 331
Polar Regions— Dr. Nansen's Third Volume of Scientific Results .. 332
The Monthly Record 334
Geographical Literature of the Month 349
New Maps 366
Sketch-map of Venezuela 285
Sketch-map showing Dr. Sven Hedin's Routes in Central Asia 308
Sketch-map of Journeys of the French •' White Fathers " in Lobemba and
Map of Asia Minor 372
No. 4. October.
From the Somali Coast through Southern Ethiopia to the Sudan. By Oscar
Neumann (with 11 Illustrations and Map) 37o
THBOUGH THE GREAT CANON OF THE EUPHRATES RIVER. 175
other room some of his photographs, which were examples of the way in which,
by a knowledge of the formation of ripples in sand, one would he able to tell the
direction of currents in mouths of rivers and estuaries. So I think we can con-
gratulate Dr. Yaughan Cornish, not only on the great scientific value of his
investigations, but also on the practical use to which many of them may be turned.
I now ask the meeting to pass a unanimous vote of thanks to Dr. Yaughan Cornish
for his valuable paper and for the beautiful way in which he has illustrated it by
THROUGH THE GREAT CANON OF THE EUPHRATES RIVER.*
By ELLSWORTH HUNTINGTON.
A reference to the map of Asia Minor shows that the Euphrates river
is formed by the union of two great branches. These for several
hundred miles flow west- south-west in nearly parallel longitudinal
valleys bounded by high ridges of mountains. The north-western
branch, or Kara Su, although it is smaller than the other, is generally
called the Fiat, or Euphrates. Near Egin the mountains that bound
its valley oome together, and it is obliged to turn abruptly at right
angles toward the south through a tremendous gorge, which it has cut
directly across the southern range of the anti-Taurus mountains.
Twenty miles below the gorge it empties into the larger branch, the
Murad Su. The latter flows from north of Van nearly straight west-
south-west to this point, part of the way through an unexplored canon,
said to be longitudinal and impassable. Below the junction of the
Murad Su and Kara Su the Euphrates river makes a great bend to the
south, and later to the east, and then, again turning south, zigzags
through the Taurus mountains in a deep gorge. It is this great
bend and the lower part of the two branches which I propose to
Before proceeding to that, however, it will be well to get a general idea
of the physical features of the surrounding country. We will examine
these in geographical, order, beginning on the south with the Taurus range.
This rises here to an average height of 7000 feet, the lowest passes, except
where the Euphrates and Tigris rivers cut through the range, having
an elevation of about 5000 feet. The core of the mountains consists of
a very old trap, the oldest formation of the region. This is broken in
many places by eruptive granites and porphyries, which are older than
the oldest stratified deposits. These crystallines are especially abundant
on the north side of the mountains. On the weathered surface of these
igneous formations are the remnants of a complex series of strata with
several unconformities marking intervals of erosion so extensive that
♦ Map, p. 177.
176 THROUGH THE GREAT CANON OF THE EUPHRATES RIVER.
only the upper series of strata remain in large quantities. These are
Cretaceous shale and limestone containing, among other fossils, numerous
hippurites and nutnmulites. In post-Cretaceous times extensive
elevation and mountain-building took place accompanied by considerable
faulting. Probably it was at this time that the shale was locally much
metamorphosed. The Cretaceous strata, rarely exceeding 1000 feet in
thickness, form the tops of the majority of the mountains. Overlying
the uplifted and highly eroded surface of this formation are numerous
recent lava-flows, chiefly basaltic, which evidently took place after the
country had assumed approximately its present topography. In several
places there are cones of ash, and south of Lake Gyuljuk there is a
crater enclosing a pond.
This lake lies in a longitudinal valley between the northern
ridges of the Taurus, in the neck of the great bend of the Euphrates
river. Its position in respect to the latter is so remarkable that it
deserves notice. The map shows that below Palu the river flows south-
west directly toward the lake and in the same longitudinal valley.
Fifteen miles from Gyuljuk it is turned west and north around the
great bend already mentioned. After a course of 160 miles, it again
enters the same great valley on the opposite side of the lake, toward
which it once more flows, this time in a north-easterly direction, to a
point 15 miles from the lake, where it turns south. The valley, which is
everywhere a prominent feature in the topography, is occupied by six
small streams beside the lake and the river, three flowing west and
three east, two to the lake and four to the river ; and in it, moreover, is
the service of the main branch of the Tigris river.
The name Gyuljuk means «• little lake," but the sheet of water is
12 miles long and from 2 to 3 miles wide. Previous to 1878 or 1879 it
had no visible outlet.* For many years its borax-bearing waters had
been steadily rising, and at that time overflowed to the Tigris. The
older villagers, who live along the shores of the lake, say that they can
remember a time when the water was 20 or 30 feet lower than it now is.
Their fathers told them that in their young days it was possible to wade
to an island which is now separated from the shore by water 75 feet deep.
They had heard that still earlier the island was connected with the
mainland, and was the site of the village which now lies on the main-
land opposite. This is incontestably corroborated by the fact that on
the island are the remains of an old monastery,! all around which may
be seen the ruins of houses submerged in the lake to a depth of 25 or
30 feet. Part of the stones of the monastery are of a kind not now found
* H. F. Tozer, * Turkish Armenia, and Eastern Asia Minor.' London, 1881,
f Verhandlungen der Btrliner atdhropologi»chen Oesellscha/t, February 17, 1900,
pp. 144, 150-152.
TKe Great Canon
By Ellsworth Huntingdon
Scale of Miles
» 30 mj
•• * >i"^ j* — " .. > ii ~ I h ^— ii —
Nat.scmlc |: 1,500.000 or 23*7 mflea « [ Inch
Heights in feet . Routes «...-*-
178 THROUGH THE GREAT CANON OF THE EUPHRATES RIVER.
in the vicinity, but probably cropping out under the lake. Some
villagers who know how to read say that in their church was an old
book, unfortunately destroyed during the events of 1895, in which it
was recorded that six hundred years ago the site of the lake was a plain,
through the middle of which flowed a stream emptying into a hole at
the lower end. This hole was later filled with silt, and the stream was
thus dammed so as to form a lake. In 1899 I mapped the lake and
took a number of soundings, from which the contour of the bottom was
roughly determined. It is perhaps worth noting that at the east end,
just where the villagers locate the ancient outlet, there is a very
precipitous slope with a descent of 400 feet in 1100 feet. Another
corroborative piece of evidence is furnished by two castles which were
built between one and two thousand years ago, and stand on opposite
sides of the lake, near the middle. Such castles are always built
with a definite purpose, but under the present circumstances it is
hard to imagine what use they could serve, as there is nothing
for them to defend. If there were no lake, the shortest and easiest
road from Harput to Diarbeker, as determined by the location of
passes, would go directly across the lake-basin from one castle to
the other. Hence they lend additional certainty to our conclusion that
no lake, or only a very small lake, existed here one or two thousand
Accepting this conclusion, it is clear that the present shore-line is
along an old beach. In twenty or twenty-five years a small lake like
Gyuljuk would be utterly unable to have much effect in producing a
bench along its margin. The beach as now seen, however, consisting of
sand and pebbles, is fairly continuous, although broken in many places
by projecting cliffs, especially on the north side, where the shale dips
away from the lake ; and in some parts the beach is 40 or 50 feet wide,
and is backed by a second line of wave-worn material lying 6 or 8 feet
above the lake-level, which has been lowered by a trench dug twenty
years ago at the outlet. Behind this upper beach are several small
lagoons. While discussing the beach, it may be said that all the little
brooks which enter the lake have fan deltas of coarse pebbles and
boulders. A few of the deltas are nearly 1000 feet wide. The con-
dition of the shore shows that this is not the first time that the lake has
stood at the present level. Accordingly we conclude that in prehistoric
times the lake was the same size as now. Somehow it was drained
wholly, or in large measure, and so in early historic times a plain
occupied most of the present lake-bed. At last, less than a thousand
years ago, the lake-basin began to be filled, and in 1878 the water
overflowed into the Tigris river. The traditional cause for this emptying
and filling seems the only adequate one. Violent or extensive earth-
movements are utterly out of the question, because there is not the
slightest sign of them, the present shore-line agreeing exactly with the
THROUGH THE GREAT CANON OF THE EUPHRATES RIVER.
old one. Changes in climate are impossible as an explanation, because
a reduction in rainfall sufficient to cause the lake to shrink to the size
which it must have assumed, would have made the surrounding country
a desert at the beginning of our era, which, as every one knows, is
contrary to the facts of history. Therefore we seem to be justified in
assuming that somehow a passage was opened in the bottom of the
lake; most of the water was drained off; later the hole was filled,
probably by the deposition of silt, and so the lake was restored to its
North of the Taurus mountains is a great lozenge-shaped basin, from
the two ends of which flow the Murad Su and Tokma Su in opposite
A RUINED BRIDGE OVER THE MUZUR SU, NEAR MAZZERD.
directions towards the centre. This is floored with a series of plains
formed of a fine alluvial deposit and broken by a number of small
mountain ridges. Cretaceous strata are abundant in these ridge?, but
their lower layers contain more sandstone and conglomerate than do the
corresponding strata further south. North of the plains lies the southern
half of the anti-Taurus mountains, in which may be included the great
Denim range. The old trap, the Cretaceous strata, and the later lava-
flows are well represented, and there is a large development of lime-
stone, seemingly older than the Cretaceous, although its age has not
been determined. This is especially abundant among the highest
mountains, those around which the Kara Su flows, where it turns from
180 THROUGH THE GREAT CANON OF THE EUPHRATES RIVER.
a westerly to a southerly coarse, and in the lower mountains farther
west. It reaches its maximum development in Muzur Dagh, where the
thickness from the river at Egin to the top of the mountain appears to
be 8000 feet. Between the two great divisions of the anti-Taurus
mountains lies another series of alluvial plains at an elevation of from
4000 to 6000 feet. They are to Asia Minor what Tibet is to Asia
Major. Through them flow the Kara Su from the east and the Chalta Su
from the west, meeting a few miles above Egin. The former flows on
the surface of the larger plains, but on the sides of the latter river the
plains lie at a much higher elevation, and have been cut by the river to
a depth of 2000 feet.
Such, in brief, is the country where the Euphrates is formed by the
junction of two large streams, and changes its course from eastward to
southward. The main roads have been often traversed and described by
travellers, but most of the region is very imperfectly known. The great
general Yon Moltke was the first to investigate the course of the
Euphrates river, as it zigzags through the mountains.* In July, 1838,
when the water was at its lowest, he floated down on a raft from Palu
to Birejik, finding the first 125 miles to Kemur Khan easy, but farther
down, in the gorge through the Taurus mountains, meeting with the
greatest difficulty because of rapids. A second attempt in the spring
of the next year, when the water was high and the rapids more
dangerous, had to be abandoned at Tilek near the beginning of the
greatest canon. Since that time no one, so far as I can learn,
either native or foreigner, had attempted the journey through the
lower gorge until in the spring of 1901 it was my good fortune to
accomplish it in company with Prof. Thomas H. Norton, U.S. Consul at
Starting from that place, we rode to Akhor, on the bank of the
Euphrates, at the eastern end of the Harput plain. The people of this
village, Armenians, make a business during the winter of floating
down the river to Kemur Khan on rafts of skins, fishing as they go.
These rafts are known as kelleks, and the raftsmen as kellekjis.
As there are no equivalent English words, I shall employ the
Turkish terms. At Kemur Khan the kelleks are taken to pieces,
and together with the fish loaded on donkeys sent by land across the
neck of the river's bend to meet them. The fish are sold at Harput,
and the rafts are taken back to the village, whence they start again.
We had engaged two of these fishermen to take us down the river as far
as we should choose to go, with the condition, imposed by them, that
they should be allowed to make a portage around one dangerous rapid,
of which they had heard, in the lower gorge below Kemur Khan. We
* See Moltke, H. von, * Briefe uber Zustande und Begobenheiten in der Tiirkei au
den Jahren 1835 bia 1839/ Berlin, 1876, pp. 289-291, 360-363.
THROUGH THE GREAT CANON OF THE EUPHRATES RIVER.
sent our horses by land across the narrowest part of the bend of the
river to Chunkush, and thenoe to Gerger, and on the morning of Friday,
April 12, were ready to begin our voyage.
The making of the kellek took some time, although in the evening a
number of entire sheepskins had been well soaked and left wet so that
they might be pliable and ready for immediate use. In the morning
they were inflated by blowing through the necks, the legs being securely
tied so that no air could escape. At first the mouths of the blowers were
at a distance of 8 or 10 inches from the necks of the skins, but as the
latter became fuller and more difficult to inflate, the men's mouths were
brought nearer until they touched the skins. When a hole was
KELLEK ON THE MUBAD 8U, NEAR A8HVAN.
discovered, it wa9 quickly mended by putting a piece of wood like a
checker against the inside of the hole and tying tbe skin firmly
around it. A light frame of saplings was tied together with ropes, and
under this were tied the skins, about thirty in number, with the legs
up. They were packed together so closely as to make the kellek water-
tight. Thirty skins seemed to us very few for five people, but the
fishermen's rafts consist of only six, and two men sit on one such
kellek. The kelleks always go in pairs on long fishing-trips.
As the spring of 1901 in Turkey was unusually dry, the river was
oomparatively low, being about halfway between the extremes of flood
and low water. As it was, the current seemed very swift even in the
182 THROUGH THE GREAT CANON OP THE EUPHRATES RIVER.
plain at Akhor. As soon as we began to float, we concluded that a
kellek moves in the easiest, most delightful way that can be imagined.
There is no jar or shake. The buoyant skins and pliant saplings adapt
themselves to every movement of the waves. Half an honr after start-
ing, we stopped for some time while the kellekjis gathered a great
quantity of weeds, which they spread over the raft, partly to protect
the skins from injary by onr feet, bnt still more to prevent them from
drying in the hot sun and cracking. Every hour or two they threw
water over all exposed portions of the skins.
On the plain half a mile from this place, near the village of
Eliraellik, is one of the many artificial mounds which dot the plains of
this region in large numbers, and which contain polished stone
hammers, bone knives, and other implements. This mound is small,
only 200 or 300 feet in diameter, and insignificant except for
one thing. Close beside it flows a mill-race, which has undermined
one side so that a perpendicular section is exposed about 30 feet
high. About 12 feet above the level of the plain is a horizontal
stratum of water-rolled gravel, 2 or 3 inches thick. Above and
below this the mound is composed of loam filled with bits of pottery.
Clearly this mound was built to a height of 12 feet, and then sub-
merged under some body of water long enough for the layer of gravel,
and probably for some layers of finer material, to be deposited. The
water then retired, and men again occupied the mound. The cause of
this submergence is not clear. The first thought is that it was due to
a river flood of unusual height, but under present conditions this would
be impossible, for the highest level of the water is now 30 feet below
the mound, and the range from high to low water is not more than 15
feet. Moreover, if a flood reached to the mound it would not deposit
gravel, but sand or finer material.
A short distance below this mound the river enters a gorge, and a
series of small rapids is formed. It here turns north by west, and
passes transversely through the small Harput range of mountains. The
gorge, cut almost wholly in basalt, has walls 1500 feet high on the
south side, and 2500 feet on the north, the distance between the two
summits being but little more than 3 miles. Halfway between the
entrance to the gorge and the mouth of the Muzur Su, an imposing
basaltic rock rises in the middle of the river to a height of 60 feet.
On the side down-stream, where alone it is possible to land, is an
artificial platform, from which a flight of rock-hewn steps leads to
the levelled top. A few other places where ascent might be possible
have been protected by walls. On the light bank of the river
close by is a cliff, in which has been cut a cave about 20 feet deep.
From the back of this ascends a flight of seventeen steep steps, leading
to an opening which commands a fine view up the river. The style of
work shows that this was a fortress of the Haldis, or Nairi, those
THROUGH THE GREAT CANON OF THE EUPHRATES RIVER.
unconquerable enemies of the Assyrians of whom we have lately learned
so much through the labours of Drs. Belk and Lehmann, especially the
latter. The location of a castle here, where there could be no bridge,
and where the road along the river-bank is very difficult and much
longer than over the mountains, and the fact that the watch-cave
faces up, not down, the river, indicate that it was built to guard against
enemies who came down the river itself. Probably they used to float
down the river on kelleks 3000 years ago just as they do now.
LOOKING DOWN THE EUPHRATES FROM THE OLD MARBLE QUARRY NEAR KEBAN MADEN.
The next point of interest below the castle is the mouth of the
Muzur river, a large and very swift stream with remarkably clear
and cool water. Bising in the mountain-girt plain of Ovajuk, and
fed by the springs of the great Dersim mountains, from the north
side of which the snow never disappears, it always has a full stream
navigable for kelleks from the plain to its mouth. Its largest braoch,
the Peri So, 150 miles long, rises near Bingyul Dagh, south of
Erzeruna, and in spring is larger than the main stream. Thirty miles
184 THROUGH THE GREAT CANON OF THE EUPHRATES RIVER.
above its mouth, near the old ruined town of Baghin,* with its Haldi
fortress and two cuneiform inscriptions, it passes through a gorge on
the two sides of which hot springs gush out in numerous places. For
a quarter of a mile the river is confined between perpendicular walls
covered with stalactites 40 or 50 feet long, the deposit of the springs.
Passing the mouth of the Muzur Su, we soon came to a ferry owned
by one of the few beys, or feudal lords, whose power is still absolute.
His Kizilbash retainers, a few days before our visit, had stolen the
ferry-boat from Akhor, our raftsmen's village, in order to use it in
ferrying wood to be sold in Harput. The mountains south of the
river are wholly deforested and the Kurds are rapidly cutting the
small growth that remains in Dersim. The men at the ferry got out
their old flintlock guns and tried to force us to pay for floating past
the place where they had the ferry rights, but our hats overawed
Below this the river leaves the mountains, but the valley is still
hemmed in on the south for some miles by a wall from 500 to 800 feet
high, capped with from 50 to 100 feet of basalt, the edge of a lava-flow
which came from the mountains north-east of Harput and reached the
edge of the river-valley, but apparently did not fill it. From here the
river flows for 30 miles through low hills and plains broken only at
Pertag. The first village passed on the right is Till, which must once
have been an ecclesiastical centre of some importance, since there are
the remains of seven Syrian churches, beside those of baths and houses.
Indeed, the whole of Dersim is fall of relics of the Christian population,
Armenian and Syrian, that once filled it. At Peftag, close to Till on
the same side, ruins of other kinds are found. From far up the river
the picturesque castle is seen on its high pointed rocks. It was first
built by the Haldi and last rebuilt by the Seljuk Turks, but no one
knows by how many races it has been occupied between these extremes.
At the base of the castle are the ruins of several mosques, churches,
and baths, and of hundreds of houses. At the beginning of this century
Pertag seems to have been a large and flourishing town, but in 1 839-40
troops were brought here and quartered in the houses of the people,
who promptly moved to their beautiful well-watered gardens, an hour
away to the north-east at the base of the mountains. When the soldiers
finally departed, the people did not care to return to their injured
houses. Some ferrymen and a few zaptiehs, gens d'armes, are the only
inhabitants of the old town. A fair is held here every Friday morning,
and is attended by Christians and Mohammedans from all sides.
The river here cuts through a great boss of granite porphyry which
rises in the sharp castle rock on one side and in a magnificent dark
* Verhandlungen der Berliner anthropologUchen GetelUehaft, Noyember 18, 1901,
THROUGH THE GREAT CANON OF THE EUPHRATES RIVER. 186
cone, 1000 feet high, on the other. Along the river the rook forme
fine though small columnar palisades. Just west of the castle, where
the river leaves the palisades and enters a region of black basalt, we
discovered the ruins of an old Roman bridge, which formed part of the
road from Harput, through Kuttu Dere, in the midst of Dersim, to
Erzinjan. This route vid Erzinjan is the shortest from Harput to the
Black Sea at Trebizond, but it is not now used, because the Kurds in the
mountains through which it passes make travelling very unsafe.
The makers of the bridge utilized as piers two islands, on the larger
of which massive limestone blocks still remain in plaoe. The rest of
the way to the Kara Su the scenery is uninteresting, the open valley
being cut through limestone, which forms low rounded hills a few
miles back from the river. On the right bank one of the villages is
Kogpenig, where many of the inhabitants live in caves. At Ashvan
a model farm is being conducted on American principles under the
direction of Prof. Norton.
The mouth of the Kara Su is disappointing because its appearance
is not equal to its geographical importance. Both rivers flow slowly
here, and approach each other from nearly opposite directions — a most
peculiar configuration for well-established rivers of such size. In the
summer of 1901, I floated down the Kara Su from Egin to the Malatia
plain. The canon at Egin is one of the finest in Turkey. Two miles
above the town the narrow stream flows between solid walls of hard
limestone 400 feet high, which even, when looked at from a distance,
appear to be really perpendicular. Above these perpendicular walls
the steep rough limestone rises 4000 feet on the west side in a distance
of only 4 miles, and on the east side 8000 feet in scarcely 8 miles.
Trees and vegetation are almost laoking, and the landsoape is all brown
and grey; yet, in spite of the bareness, it is grand. Egin itself,
thanks to the great springs, is completely hidden in trees, so that the
contrast between the green city and the bare mountains is most
striking. In floating down the stream, the mountains are soon left
behind, and the old limestone falls lower and lower, until at last it
forms a wall but 10 feet high. Over this lie sandstone and much rough
conglomerate, whioh seem to be a part of the great Cretaceous deposits.
On both sides of the river the land rises 1000 feet or more in broad
irregular terraces to a partly dissected plain covered with alluvium.
Near the mouth of the Kara Su, the old limestone rises again in
rounded hills from 400 to 1000 feet high. On the Kara Su below
Erzinjan only one dangerous rapid occurs, 15 miles below Egin, and
it is dangerous only because of the great number of stones in the
middle of the channel It is worthy of note, as an indication of the age
of these streams, that, although the grade is in some parts steep, it is
rarely broken by ledges and sudden descents. Except in the canon
between Kemur Khan and Chunkush, the rapids of both the Kara Su
No. II.— August, 1902.] o
186 THROUGH THE GREAT CANON OF THE EUPHRATES RIVER.
and Murad Su are usually due to accumulations of gravel brought
in by side streams.
The mouth of the Kara Su lies at the head of a second winding
transverse gorge cut through limestone except at Geban Mad en, where
there is an outcrop of trap in which are silver mines. The raftsmen
told us that 2 miles above Maden there were traces of another bridge,
which, however, proved to be a quarry with a series of flat steps full of
drill-holes, and cut into the face of the steep cliff in such a way that
blocks of the beautiful variegated marble could be loaded on to rafts
with the greatest ease. Where the marble was carried is not evident,
as none of it has been noted in neighbouring ruins. The passage
through the real gorge, beginning at Maden, occupies four hours
with a swift current, and in spring some good rapids, which are
scarcely noticeable in the lower water of summer. The limestone walls
tower very steeply 1000 feet or more, and above that height the
mountains rise another 1000 or 2000 feet. Hundreds of pinnacles and
peaks rise like countless castles separated by gigantic clefts. Here a little
tributary comes at the same level through a canon with perpendicular
walls ; there a sheer cliff rises 500 feet ; close by, the massive strata are
crumpled like paper or are set at various angles by great faults.
Where the strata are horizontal, the wall is benched with terraces from
20 to 60 feet high, each bearing on its top a strip of beautiful green
grass in delightful contrast to the prevailing buff grey of the mountains
and intense blue of the sky. Almost the only inhabitants are big-horned
ibex and wild blue pigeons, which mako their home in the numberless
inaccessible caves which honeycomb the limestone from top to bottom.
In the intense heat of summer, when everything dries up and the
canon is like a furnace, even these are not seen. Near the lower or
south-west end of the gorge the walls grow steeper as they decrease in
height, until the river passes out into the Malatia plain from between
perpendicular limestone walls, here only 40 or 50 feet high.
The Euphrates, now turning south, skirts the base of the western
extension of the Harput mountains, entering but slightly the great
Malatia plain which stretches 20 miles to the west. The inhabitants on
both sides are for the most part Kurds, those on the left of the river
being largely Zaza, those on the right, north of the Euru Chai
(Chai= brook), being Eizilbash, and those on the right, south of the
Tokma Su, Kurman ; while the area between the Kuru Chai and the
Tokma Su, very fertile, but not easily irrigated, is practically un-
inhabited. The Eizilbash are the most interesting of these three
divisions of the Kurds. They are a mixed race, the foundation
being some tribes of a stock allied to the Persians, who advanced
into Turkey along the central highlands. These mountains were
inhabited by Armenian Christians,who under stress of persecution became
nominal Mohammedans and intermarried with the invaders. The
THROUGH THE GREAT CANON OF THE EUPHRATES RIVER. 187
Kizilbash in the district near Mala tia, unlike their brethren in Dersim,
are peaoeable, well-behaved agriculturalists, most of whom have entirely
given up nomadic life. In general the Kizilbash are a frank, good-
natured people, eager to be amused, very ready to ask and answer
questions, hospitable, easy to deal with, industrious when work is
necessary, and faithful when they have given their word, although very
ready to rob and even to kill those to whom they are not under obligation.
Morally they are superior to their neighbours. They deteriorate rapidly
under new or adverse conditions, becoming more suspicious and
treacherous. When among the Turks, they swear that they are good
Sunni Mohammedans, although in reality their religion is a mixture of
IN THE CANON BELOW KEBAN MADEN.
Shiite Mohammedanism and Christianity, with perhaps a trace of
primitive paganism. Accurate information is hard to obtain, because in
talking with a Christian they try to make their religion appear like
Christianity. For instance, a prominent agha, or village chief, said to
me, *' We have four great prophets, Adam, Moses, David, and Jesus, of
whom Jesus is the greatest. We have four holy books, the Gospels. All
religions are but different roads to the same end — one long, one short —
one easy, one hard. You go yours, and we go ours." When I tried to
talk about Mohammed, he avoided the subject as though it were
unpleasant, so that I could learn nothing. The Kizilbash never pray
in private, but only when led by one of their sehids, or religious chiefs,
188 THROUGH THE GREAT CANON OP THE EUPHRATES RIVER.
who have great influence among them, and who go freely and safely
from tribe to tribe even during times of fead. So common are fends,
and so respected are the sebids, that the business of conducting travellers
or of carrying freight is wholly in their hands. At certain times they
observe a sort of sacrament, which closely resembles the Christian Com-
munion Service. No competent observer seems to have witnessed this,
and it is known only by report The Kizilbash reverence all Christian
sanctuaries and churches, and will even go into a church where service
is being conducted, and take part, kneeling and bowing with the people.
To be sure, they will do the same thing in a Sunni mosque, but in the
latter oase it is for fear of persecution, while in the former it is a matter
of their own inclinations.
The Euphrates, as it winds through the Malatia plain, flows slowly
and divides into a network of channels, enclosing islands of sand
or gravel nearly level with the flood-plain. The latter, often half a
mile wide, is bounded by bluffs from 30 to 50 feet high, cut in the
alluvial deposit which forms the Malatia plain. Villages, especially on
the left side, are numerous and prosperous, being usually beyond the
flood-plain, although some lie at its edge.
At Kala, close to the most western point of the great bend, there is,
on the left side of the river, a large rock, which the Haldis, or Nairi,
long ago fashioned into a castle by excavating platforms and steps, and
building walls. Behind the village, on the steep slope of Mushar
mountain, are situated several famous holy places. The first, 400 feet
above the river, is a raised platform of stone and mud, said to be the
grave of an Armenian girl who cared for the great church on the top of
the mountain. The Kizilbash aghas of the village are honoured by
being buried here, although the common people must be content to lay
their dead by the river. Five hundred and fifty feet higher is found a
Turkish holy place, the grave of a man called Hassan, in a small cave,
which has been walled in and furnished with many gaudy and some
valuable offerings. Outside is a great square altar of rough stones, all
covered with the gore of the scores of sheep and goats, which are brought
as sacrifices by both Christians and Mohammedans, and which are cooked
in huge copper caldrons hung from great beams. The horns of the
offerings are piled on another altar, and the meat is often eaten in the
holy place itself, the bones being thrown into a little cave back of the
main cave. The shrine has no guardian, but it is regarded with such
veneration by men of all religions that the most valuable of the offerings
are perfectly safe from pilferers. The third, and least visited, holy
place is an old well-built churoh with massive buttresses and arches,
located on the bleak mountain-top 2400 feet above the river. A more
unpromising or inaccessible site for a churoh can hardly be imagined.
The view from Surp Aharon, as the Armenians call the churoh, or
Mushar Kilise, as the Turks call it, is very extensive, including the
THROUGH THE GREAT CANON OF THE EUPHRATES RIVER.
snow-capped Dersim and Anti-Taurus mountains on the north, the
western extension of the Harput mountains on the east, the Taurus
mountains on the south, and on the west the broad brown expanse
of the Malatia plain, bounded on the east by the blue network of the
Euphrates, and on the west by the range of Aghaja Dagh, out by the
V-shaped cleft of the Tokma gorge.
Returning to the river, the reedy, bushy islands, or the banks of
shingle between the branches of the river, are the resort of all kinds
TRIPLE BOCK, IN THE GORGE AN HOUR BELOW KEBAN MADEN.
of water-birds — ibis, black divers, storks, bustards, herons, cranes, and
many smaller birds. The current was slow and the voyage monotonous
as we floated past the mouth of the Kuru Chai, whose valley the
Malatia-Sivas road follows for two days' journey, and past the
large Tokma Su from Gurun and Derende, until we reach Pirot, where
the road crosses the Euphrates. Here the mountains again approach
the river, leaving on either side a strip of smooth green fields dotted
with trees and houses. Behind this on the right rises the fcrst ridge of
190 THROUGH THE GREAT CANON OF THE EUPHRATES RIVER.
the Taurus, from 4000 to 5000 feet above the river, and green clear to
the enow-line, where verdant wheatfields lie olose to snow-filled valleys
from which shining little brooks tumble down the steep slope. Although
the view is not wild or grand, it is most attractive, because of its quiet
strength joined with real verdure — a rare element in the landscape of
For 6 miles we skirted the base of the mountains, whioh, approaching
gradually nearer the river, cause it to become more narrow and swift.
Near Eemur Ehan, on the left side, is a cuneiform inscription recount-
ing an expedition of Tiglath Pileser, and speaking of a certain bridge,
presumably over the Euphrates. Just up-stream from the inscription
is a fairly narrow place in the river, with low cliffs on either side which
might readily serve as piers of a bridge. As we passed this point, our
kellekjis volunteered the information that they had heard from their
fathers that in old times there was a bridge here, of which they — the
fathers — had in their youth seen a few stones.
At Eemur Ehan the river turns at right angles and goes south by
east through a remarkably straight gorge 12 miles long and nearly
4000 feet deep. The scenery is even finer than in the preceding gorges.
The dark, steep, gloomy walls of basalt and metamorphic shale are
terraced at an elevation a few hundred feet above the river, and on each
terrace or nestled in each tiny valley are one or two houses and a patch
of bright green fields. In some cases the fields are on slopes so steep
that it seems as though the sower could scarcely find a footing. Far
above the fields white patches of snow contrast strongly, in spring at
least, with the black and green walls of the canon, and send little streams
cascading down through rough gashes in the resistant rock, amidst a
chaos of huge boulders and trees. In this gorge our real difficulties
began. Our Armenian kellekjis, who knew the river thoroughly, as far
as Eemur Ehan, were now beyond their accustomed track and ready to
be afraid of everything. The first rapid in the gorge looked to them so
bad that we made a portage of between 2 and 3 miles around both that
and the next rapid, climbing 1200 feet up the steep slope over the
roughest kind of road. If the kellekjis had not been so timorous, the
rapids might easily have been shot, and we should have been saved
As we were about to embark below the portage, after a night spent
on the river-bank, a raft of logs passed us manned by two almost naked
Eurds, with wooden tridents in their hands, and strings of gourds
around their waists for life-preservers. They carry wood from Izoghlu
through the Eemur Ehan gorge to Eefferdis. We followed the men,
and after a few minutes shot a fairly large rapid, at the bottom of which
was a big whirlpool. Our men, with their spoon-shaped walnut
paddles, were able to pull us out of it, but the Eurds could do
nothing with their tridents, and were carried far up-stream. Finally
THROUGH THE GREAT CANON OF THE EUPHRATES RIVER. l9l
they had to land and haul their raft down to a point below the
Through the whole length of the gorge we went at an average rate
of 5 miles an hour, between walls of solid rook which oome down sheer
to the narrow stream, and are broken only by precipitous gullies
entering at grade and bounded by jagged cliffs with needle-like points.
The mouths of these gullies are footed by fan deltas, which have been
pushed out into the river, forming damp, over the outer ends of which
FAULT IN THE GOfiGE BELOW REBAN MADEN.
the water pours in foaming rapids. We shot into these over smooth
rounded waves, like the long swells of the ocean, but in a moment were
among the breakers, which tossed the light raft up and down like a
oork, and often came over us, breaking up-stream, as is usual in rapids.
The kellekjis paddled with all their might. The raft spun round and
round, so that we saw the wild mountains on every side without turning
Near the end of the gorge, where the mountains become lower, a
192 THROUGH THE GREAT CANON OF THE EUPHRATES RIVER.
good-sized brook from Morjimud, coming in on the left through a fine
oanoo, has bnilt a large fan. The size of the rapid thus formed
frightened our kellekjis so much that we could not persuade them to
shoot it, and were obliged to spend two hours in letting the kellek down
past it by ropes. While we were doing this, the Kurds on the wood-
raft overtook us. Lying flat on the logs, they shot through, not over
the rapid, going into wave after wave with 4 or 5 feet of water over
them, and ooming out at the bottom with a triumphant yell.
At the mouth of Mamash Chai we left the transverse canon, and
turned at right angles to the east by north into the broad longitudinal
valley in line with Lake Gyuljuk. On looking into the valley from
any of the surrounding mountains, it appears so broad and well matured
that one feels certain at first that the Euphrates must come down its
whole length from the west-south-west, the actual canon of the river
seeming to be merely the bed of a short tributary. The part of the
main stream in the open longitudinal valley and the tributary, Mamash
Chai, lying directly in line with one another and at right angles to
the transverse oanon, have incised in the valley-floor a steep-sided
trench from 150 to 250 feet deep, and wholly filled at the bottom by the
streams, which flow between rook walls without a flood-plain. Most of
the valleys in this immediate region show the same feature of a flat-
bottomed old valley with a small trench-like new valley, without a
flood-plain, incised in the floor. Thirty miles north in the Harput
mountains such newly incised valleys are not found. They occur on a
small scale 30 miles north-west, in the western extension of the Harput
mountains, around which flows the Euphrates river, and again 20 miles
further east, in the valley of the Tigris river. Probably this con-
formation is due to an uplift of the region at a comparatively recent
date, affecting most strongly the Taurus moan tains where they are
traversed by the Euphrates river. The minimum elevation seems to
have been at least 500 feet. The immediate vicinity of Harput may
have been unaffected, or, as is equally probable, the outting down of the
bed of the Euphrates has not yet proceeded far enough up-stream to
affect these mountains, although they may have been uplifted. In the
Tigris basin the very small dimensions of the newly incised valleys
may be due to slight uplift or to the comparative slowness with which
the small stream of the upper Tigris scours out its bed. The 8 miles
of the course of the Euphrates, along the open longitudinal valley in
line with Lake Gyuljuk, are over numerous rapids, caused not by fans
but by inequalities in the bed-rock, and thus indicating that the revival
of the river by uplift of the surrounding country is very recent.
Near Aivose, just below the ferry where the road from Harput to
Shiro crosses the river at the head of a dangerous rapid, which, unlike
those just above it, is caused by a detrital fan, thirty or forty of the
villagers tried to prevent us by force from going further, but were soon
THROUGH THE GREAT CANON OF THE EUPHRATES RIVER. 193
persuaded to take up our oraft and carry it a quarter of a mile around
the rapid. They could not understand why any one should make such
a dangerous journey, and especially why any one should take notes all the
time, and so, with oriental logic, they concluded that we had some secret
purpose which must be opposed to their interests. Our own servants
were equally unable to understand our purpose, although I tried to
explain. Often I heard them answering the questions of inquisitive
villagers, "What are these men doing? " " We don't know. Perhaps
they are going to make a bridge, or a wagon-road, or a railroad.
More likely they have a secret commission from the king. They say
they are not paid for making this journey, but we know better; they
are not such fools as all that. They know everything : they see a stone
or a plant, a brook or a moun-
tain, and they know it. They
even know what is in a place
before they have visited it.
They write everything. If you
want to know any more, ask
them. What do we know ? "
The villagers at Aivose
feared not only that we should
harm them, but also that we
should be drowned, in which
case the Government might
hold them responsible for the
j. . . . . - KUZZLEBASH KURD CROSSING THE EUPHRATES
foreigners, the men with n inflated sheepskin.
hats." The people here, as
well as many others with whom we talked, both above and below this
point, asserted that no one ever had navigated or could navigate the
river from Aivose to Chunkush. Von Moltke's journey seems to have
Leaving the villagers, who had become quite friendly as they
carried our goods around the rapid, we boarded the kellek once more,
and in less than ten minutes were at the angle where the river, turning
onoe more to the south from the longitudinal valley, enters an immense
crooked transverse canon, the last and longest of the great gorges,
30 miles long and 5000 feet deep. Before we knew it we were at the
head of a rapid worse than any that we had yet shot, or around whioh
we had made portages. It seems to be due partly to the structure of
the bed-rock and partly to the fan of the Uslu brook, which flows into
the river just in the middle of the rapid over a series of small cascades,
which, as seen from the river, appear to be caused by the brook's own
fan. The kellekjis wanted to make another portage, but we insisted on
shooting the rapid. Although we made the passage safely, the men's
nerves were bo completely unstrung that when we landed soon after at
194 THROUGH THE GREAT CANON OF THE EUPHRATES RIVER.
the bead of another large bed-rock rapid, they absolutely refused to go on.
One was sent to find a village and get men and animals to help in
making a portage. He found a village after a hard climb of an hoar or
more, but instead of going to it he bid till after dark, and then returned
to us, because, as he said, if the Kurds knew that we were encamped
beside the river, they would come and rob or even kill us during the
night. The other Armenian, when told to take some baggage off the
safely moored kellek, said, " If I ever set foot on that kellek again I
know that I shall die. Then who will take care of my wife and
children? You haven't any hearts. The mountains are savage, the
river is savage, the people are savage, but you don't fear them. Don't
you even fear God ? "
He was full of superstition and was in terror, partly because he had
dreamed the night before that some of his friends were dying. This
night he dreamed that we Americans were shooting pistols, which,
curiously enough, seemed to encourage him greatly.
In the morning we made our portage, a long hard one involving a
climb of 900 feet up out of the steepest parts of the canon, and at twenty
minutes past five in the afternoon were ready to embark, 2 miles
from our camp of the previous night. Floating very rapidly for nearly
an hour, we passed the sulphurous hot springs of Tilek, which rise on
both sides of the river below high-water mark. They contain chiefly
hydrogen sulphide and calcite. In July, 1900, I visited them and
found the temperature to be 114° Fahr., while that of the surrounding
air was 103° Fahr. at 4.30 p.m. On account of the inaccessibility of the
springs, they are but little visited, although reputed very beneficial
for skin and rheumatio diseases. The favourite method of treatment
is to bathe the patient half an hour, and then bury him up to the
neck in the hot river sand for two hours, repeating this process four
or five times in a day.
Near Tilek the river turns more directly south and passes through
magnificent scenery. At the bottom, schist, formed by the metamor-
phism of shale, forms almost perpendicular walls, which we estimated
as nearly 400 feet high. Above is a terrace, from which green wooded
upper walls rise less steeply to the mountain-tops a mile above our
heads. The larger tributaries cut through the apparently perpendicular
lower wall in steep-sided narrow canons, entering the main stream at
grade, while several small streams have not yet cut down to grade,
and cascade over the cliffs in a series of white falls.
These hanging valleys and many other characteristic features of
the Euphrates canon correspond closely to what is described in the
Grand canon of the Colorado river, showing that the two rivers are of
nearly the same age. The Colorado canon is much longer than that of
the Euphrates, and is cut through a plateau of nearly horizontal strata
instead of through a range of mountains formed of muoh distorted
THROUGH THE GREAT CANON OF THE EUPHRATES RIVER.
strata ; but in both cases the depth of the canon and the inclination of
the walls, very steep at the bottom and more gentle above, are approxi-
mately the same. Both rivers are so young that they have not yet
established thoroughly graded channels, but no waterfalls are found
each as we should expect in extremely young streams.* There are,
however, the two kinds of rapids which I have already mentioned, viz.
those due to outcrops of hard rock which have been worn back so far
as to present a regular but nevertheless very rapid descent, and those
due to the damming of the stream by fans of detritus brought in by
tributaries. It was by these that the famous journey of Powell down
ENTRANCE TO THE GBEAT CANON AT KEMUR KUAN, LOOKING SOUTH.
the Colorado was made so dangerous.f We found that as a rule the
bed-rock rapids are longer, but the fan rapids are more steep and
dangerous. They indicate that the rivers are approaching, but have
not yet reached, the stage of maturity, when the whole channel assumes
a graded charaoter.
The junction of the side streams with the main river is another
interesting indication of youth. The majority, as has been said, enter
* See Gilbert, G. K., Engineer Dept. U.S. Army, ' Report upon Geog. and Geol.
Expl. West of 100th Meridian,' vol. iii. (Washington, 1875) part i. pp. 70-75.
t See Powell, J. W., « Exploration of the Colorado River of the West and ita
Tributaried.' Washington : 1875.
196 THROUGH THE GREAT CANON OF THE EUPHRATES RIVER.
at grade through narrow steep-sided canons, but some of the smaller
tributaries and a number of wet- weather torrents have not been able to
carve valleys as rapidly as the main stream has incised its canon, and so
have been left hanging at various levels on the canon wall. They are
in marked contrast to the hanging valleys desoribed in glaciated coun-
tries such as Switzerland and Norway. The latter enter main valleys
far broader than the streams that occupy them — so broad, indeed, that the
main rivers have room to wander over wide flood-plains, bordered often by
narrow strips of plain which graduate into the steep valley wall with-
out any sudden angle. The others, on the contrary, send their streams
cascading over the precipice directly into the Euphrates river, whose
valley is so narrow that not only is there no flood-plain, but the water
washes the rocky base of the almost perpendicular cliffs. The Colorado
river, it will be remembered, has just such hanging valleys where it
passes through the harder crystalline rocks. These two oases, where
the discordance of side valleys seems to be incontestably due wholly to
river-erosion, are in suoh marked contrast to the discordance of valleys
of glaciated countries, that it is very hard to believe that the latter
could have been due to river-erosion. If we regard them as the product
of glacial erosion, we have what seems to be an adequate explanation of
their difference from those that are certainly of river origin.*
In the middle of the fan delta of Haloge Chai, a small tributary
of the Euphrates which enters the main stream at grade, lies an immense
white boulder, 30 feet in diameter, on the top of which are perched a
number of boulders of other kinds, small only in comparison with the
monster on which they rest. Probably the surface of the delta was
formerly high enough to cover completely the large boulder above which
the others were laid down. As the delta was worn away, the latter
were left resting on the former. That water could transport and smooth
a boulder of such enormous size seems incredible, but the stone is there
at a considerable distance from its point of origin, and must have been
carried down the slope to its present position by floods.f
A mile below this we stopped at the head of the biggest rapid yet
seen, and of course the men wanted to make a portage. As our time
was growing short, and a portage would take nearly a day, we decided
to leave the light baggage for the men to carry over the quarter-mile
chord of the great boulder-strewn fan which caused the rapid, and ourselves
take the raft down. They expected that we should be drowned, and
they would be left alone without a kellek in the bottom of that almost
inaccessible gorge ; but in spite of their entreaties we pushed off, and
♦ See Davis, W. M., «• An Excursion to the Grand Cation of the Colorado," Bulletin
of the Museum of Comp. Zoology at Harvard College, vo 1 . xxxviii. (Cambridge, 1901)
f See Gilbert, G. K., op. cit. y p. 71.
THROUGH THE GREAT CANON OF THE EUPHRATES RIVER.
although we paddled hard were in the rapid before we had reached mid-
stream. There was a long swift exhilarating shoot over a tilting stretoh
of water, and we were among dashing waves which seemed to be 10 feet
high. As the kellek rose on the first one, we stopped paddling and
seized the ropes. We whirled round and round more swiftly than ever
before, this time not looking at the grandeur of the mountains, but
only at the waves, whioh broke over us again and again, wetting us to
the skin. The kellek stood the passage perfectly, and below the rapids
LOOKING UP-STREAM IN THE CANON OF THE ETJPHRATE8 AT MORFA, JUST SOUTH OF
THE OERGER RIDGE.
we brought it safely ashore. When at last the men overtook us, they
seemed to feel that our preservation was miraculous.
" You're not men; you're jinner (spirits) ! " one of them exolaimed.
From here to Chunkush the gorge is cut almost entirely through
limestone. Travelling at the rate of 8 miles an hour, we passed for 18
miles through a continuous succession of bed-rock rapids, many of them
larger than those around whioh we had made portages. We spent the
night on a tiny ledge, where the precipice overhung us and partly
198 THROUGH THE GREAT CANON OP THE EUPHRATES RIVER.
protected us from the light rain that fell toward morning. Although
neither the river, the mountains, nor the Kurds had harmed us, the men
seemed determined to find something of whioh to be afraid.
" If we sleep here, the bears will come to the top of the precipice and
throw stones on us," they said, when we proposed to land on the narrow
The next to the worst rapid is 2 miles above Chunkush, where the
one of our kellekjis whose sleep had been disturbed by dreams was washed
overboard by the waves. Most fortunately his companion seized his arm,
and we all pulled him on to the raft at the imminent risk of upsetting it.
A few minutes later, while we were still in the same long rapid, we
encountered one of the dangers that we had most feared. The raft
stuck on a hidden rock in such a position that the waves would soon
have battered the skins till they .leaked and the raft went to pieces ; but
we got off by shifting the load first to one side and then the other, thus,
as it were, prying the raft over the stone.
From Chunkush to Gerger, where our river journey ended, the
mountains grew gradually lower. The river presents no special obsta-
cles and no points of marked interest, although the soenery is still fine.
The large Chermug Chai, a brook which enters on the left, has two main
branohes : one, the Eizilohabuk, is a wet-weather stream from the
south-east, where it drains part of the plain north-west of Diarbekir ;
the other has always a large stream. Its main source is halfway
between Chunkush and Chermug, where there is in the limestone a
great sink-hole over 400 feet deep, with an aperture scarcely 50 feet by
20. The water from this reaches the surface 2£ miles farther east, near
the village of Sinek, from which the stream takes its name. A smaller
branch comes from the locally famous sulphur hot springs of Chermug.
At Gerger, where the Euphrates passes through the last outlying
ridge of the Taurus mountains, we find one of the narrowest gorges.
The hard limestone mountains rise over 2000 feet above the river,
the north side of the ridge being bounded by a long line of cliffs 400 or
500 feet high, from tbe base of which there is a much more gentle slope
to Fetterge Chai. The south side slopes off gradually in well-rounded
gentle hills which can be traversed with great difficulty because of the
rough pits and sharp edges into which the limestone weathers, and whioh
have been denuded of soil because of the deforesting which has taken
place. As one stands on the top of the ridge, a long broad depression is
here visible — the old valley of the Euphrates stretching to the south-
west nearly parallel to the mountains — but there is no sign of the river,
whose present course is marked only by a slight line of cliffs. An
observer who did not know that the river intervened would think that
he could easily walk to the hills on the opposite side. The river now
flows in a narrow canon with perpendicular walls 450 feet high.
This journey of 190 miles by water from Akhor to Gerger occupied
THROUGH THE GREAT CANON OF THE EUPHRATES RIVER. 199
seven days, including the unnecessary portages, although the time
actually required for floating down the river was only thirty-seven hours*
The 50 miles from Akhor to the Kara Su occupied teji hours, the 35
miles to the beginning of the Malatia Plain six hours, the 45 miles to
Kemur Khan ten and a half hours, and the remaining 60 miles to Gerger
ten and a half hours. The total descent as measured by aneroid is 1250
feet, the steepest part being near the big rapid just below Tilek, 10O
feet in 6 miles, and the gentlest descent being in the Malatia plain, 100
feet in 55 miles. We found that the map as given by Von Moltke needs
At present the roads avoid the gorges of the river and climb over the
high mountains. As soon as railroads are introduced, there can be no
doubt but that, as usual, one of the main lines will follow the easy grade
of the river.
Although the utilization of the Euphrates river for industrial
purposes may be far in the future, it is, nevertheless, a problem which
will some day be of great importance. The most valuable part of the
river's basin is Mesopotamia, which begins south of our journey's limit, and
of which I cannot speak from personal knowledge. A comparison of
the accounts of ancient and modern travellers shows, however, that its
present poverty is almost as remarkable as was its ancient fertility and
wealth. That region is described as being so rapidly and completely
ruined by the invasion of the sand of the desert on the south-west side,
and by the constant shifting of the channel of the Euphrates river in
the centre, that the future will be even more desolate than the present
unless measures are taken to resist these encroachments. Against both
the river and the desert the means of protection lies in controlling the
river itself. In ancient times the control of the water was effected by
a great system of canals, embankments, and reservoirs in Lower Mesopo-
tamia. These were in constant need of expensive repairs, and their
breaking was the cause of frequent disaster. England has found that
the only way to control the Nile is to control its sources, and, having
finished the work of cutting the sudd, she is now making the huge dam
at ABSuan, and considering the far greater task of regulating the out-
flow of the great African lakes. It is a work of great magnitude, in-
volving an immense outlay of capital, but there is no doubt that it will
prove permanently successful. The problem presented by the Nile is
similar to that presented by the Euphrates, and the two must be similarly
dealt with, although there is one important difference. In the former
case, the chief problem is to conduct the water to the sea by the right
channels, in the right quantities, and at the right time. In the
Euphrates river, the problem is to use the water before it reaches the sea.
When the Euphrates river is properly controlled, it will serve two
great uses : it will be a great producer of power, and it will accomplish
the vastly more important work of irrigating Mesopotamia. More than
200 THROUGH THE GREAT CANON OP THE EUPHRATES RIVER.
three- fourths of the rainfall of the upper Euphrates basin falls in the
seven months from October to April. If the precipitation of this
period could be retained among the mountains, and allowed to escape
during the late spring and summer, it would not only save Mesopotamia
from the annual floods whioh carry away great sections of land along
the banks and convert other large areas into disease-germinating
swamps, but would also accomplish the far more important result of
enabling vast tracts of the best kind of land to be irrigated and re-
claimed from the desert The extent of the entire region that can be
reclaimed by means of the river seems to be as great as that of England.
Although Mesopotamia can produce two crops a year, its population is
scarcely a million ; yet it might support ten times as many people, and
still export in great quantities all sorts of food-stuffs. It is destined to
be one of the richest parts of the world if its development is unhindered.
The great need, so far as merely physical matters are concerned, is the
controlling of the Euphrates river.
The best means of accomplishing this seems to be by building
reservoirs in the great depression of the upper Euphrates valley between
the Taurus and anti-Taurus ranges. This oontains a series of small
parallel mountain ridges enclosing many plains, generally, although on
slight ground, called lake-basins. In the middle of each is a stream,
which passes out at the lower end through a steep narrow valley. The
plain b can easily be converted into reservoirs by the construction of
simple dams. The expense, which would not be excessive, would
certainly be met, iu part at least, by the water-power thus rendered
available, while the storing of the surplus water of the winter would
be of incalculable value in irrigating Mesopotamia. Of course, the
value of the land covered by the reservoirs must be considered. Fortu-
nately it is slight, for although the larger plains are very valuable, the
smaller ones are often so cut up by small watercourses that they have
little value for agriculture, and might readily be converted into lakes.
It is the work of the engineer to determine the best sites for dams, but
the possibility of building them seems patent to any one who has seen
the plains and gorges. The progress of civilization will necessitate the
building of such reservoirs, and the only place where they can be
profitably built is north of the Taurus mountains.
What has been said of the Euphrates river is, with certain modifica-
tions, true of the Tigris also. Reservoirs can probably be built east of
or among the Zagros mountains, just as they certainly can be built
north of the Taurus mountains. From the earliest times until now the
history of the Mesopotamian plain has been sharply separated from that
of the mountains to the north and north-east. In the future the history
of the two regions must be one, because the development of Mesopotamia
depends absolutely on the great rivers which flow from the mountains,
and must there be controlled.